The Kaboodle lesson – If you have a great platform and the wrong niche, shift your niche

When you’re an entrepreneur — especially an online one — you need the ability to re-create yourself on the fly. If you want a great real-time example, here’s one for you: Kaboodle. Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the “Shoppers Site Kaboodle” is being purchased by Hearst. Om Malik reports the price is around $40 million.

When I saw this news, I thought to myself: Huh? When did Kaboodle become a “shopping site”? I remember using Kaboodle and liking it a lot — and the last thing I’d ever do is sign up for a shopping site. But, sure enough, when I click over to, it says, right there at the top of the page, “Have fun shopping with friends, share and discover new products.”

I used Kaboodle back when it started. I blogged about it in December, 2005 at which time I described it as “sorta like but with a much more attractive interface.” I even blogged a second time about Kaboodle when Mike Arrington mentioned them being at DEMO. Even then, the site was being referred to as a “clip service,” but I do note that Mike added to his mini-description of their DEMO appearance, this: “A lot of people are finding Kaboodle to be a very useful shopping tool.” In Kaboodle’s first appearance on TechCrunch, it was described as a bookmarking + wiki site.

I used it for nearly a year for organizing a sub-set of bookmarks, but, then moved onto the next shiny object. Wait, no, that’s not right — I moved back to a less shiny object, As much as I liked it, I thought Kaboodle was getting redundant with and, even moreso, StumbleUpon. What I missed by leaving the site was the savvy repositioning its founders and backers shifted to.

Fortunately, my Kaboodle page is still alive at the great URL, If you look at my Kaboodle page, you will find nothing about shopping. Nothing.

However, they sold the site today for $40 million as a “social shopping” site. That, my friends, is what I call impressive footwork. And some smart shopping by Hearst, as well. Kudos to some smart, savvy folks.

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